Vancouver Film School as busy as any postproduction house in the city

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      Ted Gervan, vice president of education at Vancouver Film School, says he can’t think of another school in the world that has 10 production studios in the centre of a city like Vancouver, which has become a mecca for film, television, and media production.

      The 30-year-old school offers a wide range of one-year programs in film and television, game design and technology, and animation and visual effects. There are eight campuses in Vancouver, including its flagship Gastown facilities, which occupy 155,000 square feet.

      “Our abundance of space allows the students to explore advanced cinematography techniques, which can only happen in a studio where you can model the light and shadow and do really complex things,” Gervan told the Straight by phone. “It also allows them to undertake more ambitious projects, including feature-length films, because with as many studios as we have, students are able to book them for longer periods of time. Doing a 30-day feature-film shoot can actually happen at VFS because of the sheer abundance of space.”

      Every year, students produce and edit more than 600 film projects.

      This, according to Gervan, makes Vancouver Film School as busy as any postproduction house in the city.

      He also said that student filmmakers benefit from the presence of actors, sound designers, makeup artists, animators, and writers who also attend the school.

      “It’s really advantageous when you’ve got actors performing on your shoot who are trained actors as opposed to film students trying to be actors,” Gervan commented. “It does have the effect of enhancing the production value overall.”

      In the video-game area alone, Gervan said students receive input from mentors who work for the city’s leading game designers, including EA, Hothead, Relic, Microsoft, Capcom, and Activision.

      “Each student and, in many cases, their families have different educational priorities and goals,” he acknowledged. “I strongly believe that if you want to obtain a meaningful career in film and entertainment media, a one-year education at VFS is one of the best and fastest ways to do so. Also, compounding living and tuition costs for two-, three-, and four-year programs are certainly something to consider closely when that amount of time may not be necessary, given your career path.”

      Moreover, he said that students at his school have, on average, about 1,200 “contact hours” per year.

      He maintained that this means, in effect, that the school is offering a “volume of curriculum” in a single year that’s the equivalent of some three-year programs. That's because there are no part-time studies and students are immersed in their education for 40 hours per week.

      “There’s a lot of opportunities now—particularly in animation, games, and game programming—that are…amazing career opportunities that pay really well,” Gervan said.

      Watch the Vancouver Film School's year-in-review video, which was created last year.

      The school is also prepared for the next big thing—virtual reality—which is expected to transform the world of entertainment.

      At this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, it was one of the major attractions, along with autonomous vehicles.

      According to Gervan, the school's head of game design and programming for games, web, and mobile (Peter Walsh) has already developed partnerships with VR First and Oculus to buy many VR devices.

      "We will refresh all of our PCs in April to be VR Ready," Gervan said. "As a member of the VRAR Association, one of the most important thought leaders, we continue to be at the forefront of pushing VR and AR forward. Several of our students have developed VR final projects and have already been hired as developers."

      The school will officially roll out its VR curriculum in May across its game design and programming area. 

      In addition, the animation and concept art faculty use VR goggles in the media studies class to give students an introduction in this area. And some are already painting in 360 degrees to create more immersive images.